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Baseball opens Pac-10 play against California

March 23, 2010

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Leading off:

After a perfect 5-0 week with two wins at Cal State Fullerton and three at home against Houston, the Sun Devils open Pac-10 play by hosting the California Golden Bears at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark. The three-game conference opening series gets underway Friday night.


Devils vs. Cal:

The Sun Devils and Golden Bears have met 159 times, with ASU leading the all-time series 102-57. Last season in Berkeley, ASU took two of three. Arizona State swept Cal at home in 2008.


Pac-10 play:

Arizona State opens up its 32nd season of Pac-10 play this weekend. The Sun Devils have won nine Pacific-10 Conference championships, including the last three. ASU holds an all-time mark of 512-351 in Pac-10 play. They joined the conference in 1979.


Historical start to a season:

The 20 straight wins to open the 2010 campaign is the second best start in school history. Only the 1961 team, who began the year 21-0, had a better start to a season. The 2008 Sun Devil squad began the year 19-0, the previous second best mark.


Historical start to a coaching career:

With Arizona State’s 20-game winning streak to start the 2010 season, Head Coach Tim Esmay has set a new standard for wins to start a career as Arizona State’s head baseball coach. Jim Brock held the previous record for best start by a first year coach, going 12-0 to begin his ASU coaching career in 1972. Pat Murphy won the first five games of his first season in 1995. Bobby Winkles began his career 0-1-1 in 1959, the first year of varsity baseball at Arizona State.


Team captains:

The 2010 Sun Devils will be led by three team captains. Senior Raoul Torrez is in his second season as a captain after serving with Mike Leake as co-captain last season. Joining Torrez will be seniors Josh Spence and Kole Calhoun. Torrez is in his fourth year with the program, while Spence and Calhoun are in their second.


Cal State Fullerton/Houston recap:

Arizona State’s first true road game of the season came Tuesday night at Goodwin Field for a meeting with the Cal State Fullerton Titans. The two teams traded leads all game until the fifth, when a three-run ASU inning put the Devils on top for good. Riccio Torrez’s two-run single gave ASU a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in a 6-5 win...Tuesday was more of the same, as the Sun Devils used a five-run fifth to hold off Fullerton. The Titans took the lead in the seventh, but Andrew Aplin’s two-run triple put Arizona State ahead to stay in an 8-6 triumph...The Devils returned home for a series against Houston that got underway Friday night. Seth Blair was fantastic, striking out eight and allowing only one run in seven innings of work. Kole Calhoun hit a grand slam, then was followed by a Riccio Torrez solo homer to pace the offense in a 10-1 win...Merrill Kelly threw seven scoreless innings, fanning eight as ASU shut out the Cougars 6-0 on Saturday. Zach Wilson was 3-5 with five RBI, including a three-run homer, in the victory...Sunday was a nail-biter, as Houston scored three in the ninth off Jake Barrett, but Jordan Swagerty was able to end the threat as the Sun Devils swept the Cougars 6-5.


Jordan Swagerty, Mr. Everything:

On Sunday afternoon against Houston, Jordan Swagerty proved his worth to the Sun Devils yet again. The ASU closer had spent the first 8.2 innings behind the plate as the starting catcher, but when the Devils needed the door slammed on the Cougars, Swagerty was ready. He shed his catcher’s gear, grabbed his glove and closed the door on Houston, picking up his seventh save of the season. It marked the first time since 2006 that an ASU player caught and pitched in the same inning. The last Sun Devil to do it was CJ Retherford, who did it against Prairie View A&M in the 2006 NCAA Tournament in Houston.


Man vs. Food visits Packard:

Hit Travel Channel show Man vs. Food made a stop in Phoenix last week, and one of the spots they visited was Packard Stadium. Host Adam Richman threw out the first pitch Friday night vs. Houston, then filmed a segment for the show on the field on Saturday. Assistant Coach Ken Knutson made a special guest appearance in the episode, which is scheduled to air sometime in June.


Watch list recognitions:

Several Sun Devils have been named to the Watch Lists for national awards. Mitchell Lambson, Josh Spence and Jake Borup have all been named to the Watch List for the Pitcher of the Year Award. Mike Leake was a finalist for the award last season. Drew Maggi has been named to the Watch List for the Brooks Wallace Award, given annually to the top shortstop in the nation.


Career highs:

Just 20 games into the 2010 season, several Sun Devils have already eclipsed their previous career highs in many categories. Zack MacPhee has established new career bests in stolen bases (10) and triples (8). Zach Wilson has set a new best in hits (30), doubles (8), home runs (2) and RBI (21). Jordan Swagerty has saved a career high seven games, while Drew Maggi has already tied his career high for doubles (5).


Slammer time:

Kole Calhoun’s Grand Slam on Friday night against Houston was the second of his career and the second Grand Slam of the season for ASU. They had four last year, including Calhoun’s in Omaha.


Worth the wait:

Senior Raoul Torrez had a memorable final trip to Surprise. The only Sun Devil who has played in four Coca-Cola Classics at Surprise Stadium, Torrez cracked his first career Grand Slam against Cal Poly, breaking an 8-8 tie. It would prove to be the game winner, as ASU won 12-9. Torrez has hit four home runs in his career. Prior to the grand slam, brother Riccio homered to lead off the inning. It was the first time the Torrez brothers homered in the same game.


Quality time with a hall of famer:

Several Sun Devils got a thrill in Surprise, as they got a chance to meet Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. Ryan, who is President of the Texas Rangers, was signing autographs for fans as the Devils took the field. He was in front of ASU’s dugout, and several Sun Devils were able to shake his hand, pose for a photo or get an autograph before going out for pre-game stretching.


Coca-Cola Classic Tournament history:

With their 4-0 showing in the 8th Annual Coca-Cola Classic, Arizona State improved their all-time record in the tournament to 17-9. It was the first time since the inaugural year of the tournament that ASU went undefeated in three or more games (ASU was 2-0 in 2008). The 16 runs scored against UC Riverside, as well the 14-run margin of victory and the 22 hits in the 16-2 win, were all Coca-Cola Classic tournament records.


Player of the week:

Sophomore Zack MacPhee was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week, The NCBWA’s National Hitter of the Week and a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball following opening weekend against Northern Illinois. The second baseman had an amazing opening weekend, going 8-11 (.727), scoring seven times, driving in eight runs and collecting 20 total bases, including four triples. It is the first weekly honor of MacPhee’s career and it is the third straight season a Sun Devil has been named the Pac-10 Player of the Week following opening weekend.


Feels like the first time:

11 student-athletes have made their ASU debuts this season: Daniel Milner, Andrew Aplin, Joey DeMichele, Jimmy Patterson, Xorge Carrillo, Deven Marrero, Josh Moody, Jake Barrett, Alex Blackford, Brady Rodgers and Merrill Kelly.


Another ASU hall of famer:

Alan Bannister will become the sixth Sun Devil in the College Baseball Hall of Fame during Fourth of July weekend in Lubbock, Texas. Bannister was a member of the 8-man 2010 Hall of Fame class that was announced by the College Baseball Foundation. Bannister played three seasons at ASU from 1970 to 1972, earning First Team All-American honors in 1971 and 1972. The shortstop was a career .355 hitter and was the #1 pick in the 1973 January MLB Draft. He played 12 seasons in the Majors.


Triple the fun:

On March 9, 1963, the Sun Devils hit six triples in a 12-0 win over Utah State, setting a school record. That record stood for 47 years, until ASU tied it on February 20 during the second game of the doubleheader with Northern Illinois. In ASU’s 26-1 win in seven innings, the Devils collected six three-baggers, tying the school record. The NCAA record is seven, set in 1976 and tied in 1992. ASU had not had more than four triples in a game since 1975. The six triples also tied the Pac-10 record, set in 1945. So far in 2010, ASU has tripled 21 times. The school record is 58, set in 1970. Zack MacPhee has already collected eight triples so far this season after getting only one all of last year. The school record for triples in a season is 13 by Alan Bannister in 1971.


Exhibition with Meiji University (Japan):

On Tuesday night, the Sun Devils faced Meiji University of Japan in an exhibition game which the Devils won 9-1. It was ASU’s first international exhibition since March 11, 1999 when they faced Aomori of Japan.


ASU Baseball International Exhibition Games In Tempe

3/2/10- vs. Meiji University (Japan)

3/11/99- vs. Aomori (Japan)

3/10/92- Keio (Japan)

3/29/82 to 3/31/82- Taiwan National Team

2/21/80- Taiyo (Japan)

2/27/80- Hanshin (Japan)

3/17/78- Waseda (Japan)


Family ties:

Arizona State baseball has become a true family affair in recent years. Junior OF Matt Newman has Maroon and Gold in his blood, as his father, Randy, was a pitcher for the Sun Devils in 1981 and 1982, winning 15 career games and the 1981 National Championship. Last season, Matt and Randy joined a select list as a father-son combo who both played in the College World Series...Sophomore OF Johnny Ruettiger is the nephew of Rudy Ruettiger, the former Notre Dame football player who had a movie about his life made...Senior Danny Duffy is the brother of former Sun Devil and Major Leaguer Chris Duffy, who played for ASU in 2001...Freshman catcher Kyle Arnsberg is the son of former Major Leaguer and current Toronto Blue Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg...Freshman shortstop Deven Marrero is the cousin of Chris Marrero, a rising star in the Washington Nationals’ system.


Brotherly love:

Last season, the Sun Devils boasted a set of brothers who started next to each other in the infield, marking the first time in school history that brothers started next to each other on the diamond. In Omaha, when Raoul Torrez manned the hot corner for the Devils and his brother Riccio handled first base, they became the first brother duo since 2004 to start a game in the College World Series. The Torrez brothers are the fifth set of brothers to suit up for the same Sun Devil team. They are joined this season by Drew and Beau Maggi, who become the sixth brother tandem to play for ASU. Drew enters his sophomore season, while his brother Beau begins his freshman year. The other Sun Devil brothers to play on the same teams are Kevin and Pat Dukes (1980-81), Dale and Larry Eiler (1976-78), John and Tom Sain (1973) and Brett and Greg Bordes (2005-06).


The Mayor of Omaha:

Kole Calhoun had a memorable trip to Omaha for the 2009 College World Series, earning All-CWS honors thanks to his .563 average over the four games. Calhoun drove in 11 runs, slugged 1.250 and hit three home runs, including a grand slam. He became only the fourth Sun Devil to ever hit a grand slam at the College World Series, joining Sal Bando (1965), Bob Horner (1978) and Michael Collins (1998). Calhoun quickly became a fan favorite at Rosenblatt Stadium, collecting his own cheering section in left field.


School ties:

Many players on the ASU roster are quite familiar with one another. The Sun Devils have five student-athletes who all attended Brophy Prep in Phoenix. Raoul and Riccio Torrez, Drew and Beau Maggi and Matt Newman all played on the Brophy baseball team. Josh Spence, Jimmy Patterson and Xorge Carrillo all played for Central Arizona in 2008, while Patterson and Carrillo also played together at McClintock High School in Tempe, along with Daniel Milner. Josh Moody and Zack MacPhee both played at Sandra Day O’Connor in Phoenix.


Double duty:

Sophomore OF Brandon Magee is no stranger to ASU athletics, playing linebacker for the Sun Devil football team. Magee joins Mike Jones as recent Sun Devils who played both football and baseball. Jones played football from 2005 to 2008, while splitting time with baseball from 2006 to 2008. Magee recorded 34 tackles in 2009, including seven for loss with two QB sacks. He also intercepted a pass while playing in all 12 games. Magee collected his first career hit against UC Riverside in Surprise.


In the dugout:

Arizona State features a new coaching staff for the 2010 season. Former Sun Devil infielder Tim Esmay takes over head coaching duties after spending the previous five seasons as an assistant coach, including the last three as assistant head coach. Ken Knutson will handle the pitching coach duties in his first season at ASU following 17 years as the head coach at Washington. Travis Jewett begins his first season with the Sun Devils after coaching the past five seasons at Washington State. Former Sun Devil All-American and Major Leaguer Mike Benjamin begins his first season as an assistant coach at his alma mater.


1,000 times yes:

With its 8-0 win over Northern Illinois on February 19, Arizona State recorded its 1,000th victory at Packard Stadium. Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark has been the home field of the Sun Devils since 1974, with the exception of the 2002 season when ASU played at Hohokam Park in Mesa during Packard renovations. ASU has compiled a home record of 1,013-269-1 at Packard Stadium.


Back in uniform:

With Mike Benjamin joining the coaching staff, ASU now boasts two former Sun Devils on the 2010 coaching staff. Tim Esmay and Benjamin were teammates at ASU in 1986 and 1987, helping the Devils to a combined 74-55 record and a berth in 1987 College World Series. Benjamin was an All-American and All-Pac-10 performer in 1987, becoming a third round pick of the San Francisco Giants. He played 13 seasons in the Major Leagues.


Pac-10 picks:

The Sun Devils were picked to win the Pac-10 Championship by the Pac-10 coaches for the second straight year. ASU received seven of the nine first place votes. This is the third time in school history Arizona State has been picked to win the conference, joining 2007 and 2009.



The Sun Devils are the top-ranked team in the country in both the Collegiate Baseball poll and the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll. ASU is #2 on and in the NCBWA poll. They are #3 in Baseball America.


Leader of the Pac:

Since the 2000 season, the Arizona State Sun Devils have been the most consistent program in the Pac-10 conference. Since 2000, ASU leads the Pac-10 in wins (453), conference wins (157), NCAA Tournament appearances (10), Top 25 finishes (10), All-Americans (29), draft picks (78) and First Team All-Pac-10 players (47). The Devils have won four Pac-10 titles since 2000, including the last three.



The 2009 Sun Devils were dominant on the field at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark, and the thanks in large part go to the record-number of fans who attended the games. Last season, the Devils went 36-4 at home and led the West Coast in attendance for the fifth straight season. 125,082 fans came out to see the Sun Devils in 2009, and average of 3,207 per game. That’s the highest average attendance since 1984.


Feeling the draft:

There are 22 members of the 2010 Sun Devils who have had their name called during the annual Major League Baseball draft, including Josh Spence and Raoul Torrez, who both were drafted last season but opted to return to school. Spence, Merrill Kelly and Xorge Carrillo have each been drafted twice.


Single game career highs:

Many Sun Devils have established new single game career highs this season. Austin Barnes had four hits and four RBI against NIU on February 20; Seth Blair tied his career high with nine strike outs against Towson on February 26; Zack MacPhee had four hits, four runs scored and five RBI against NIU on February 20 and four walks against Auburn on March 14; Drew Maggi had four hits twice (vs. UC Riverside 3/6 and at Cal State Fullerton 3/17); Johnny Ruettiger tied his career high with three hits against Auburn (3/13) and Houston (3/20). He set a new career high in runs scored with four against Auburn on March 13; Riccio Torrez had four hits and scored four runs against NIU on February 20; Zach Wilson has collected three hits three times this season. He drove in five against Houston on March 20.


Did you know?:

The Sun Devils hold the NCAA record for most grand slams in a single season. The 2003 ASU squad hit an unbelievable 14 grand slams.


Up next:

Arizona State hits the road to open the away portion of its Pac-10 schedule, heading to Eugene, Oregon for the first time in school history. The Devils and Ducks will play a three-game series that gets underway Thursday.